According to the World Health Organisation, the human brain is arguably the most complex organ in the human body and is recognized as the body’s command center, influencing every aspect of human life. Having a tumor grow in this very integral part of the body raises concern. Here are a few things to know about tumors growing in the brain.
What are brain tumors?
Brain tumors are tumors that develop in the brain tissue. They are usually benign, though some are cancerous. Most brain tumors are caused by a genetic mutation. These mutations can be inherited or acquired by exposure to toxins. In some cases, the cause is unknown.
How common are they?
Brain tumors are relatively rare compared to other types of cancers, but they still affect approximately 1 in every 4,000 people in their lifetime. They are also the second most common cancer in the world, with an estimated 1.6 million new cases diagnosed annually. The most common types of brain tumors are:
a) Astrocytoma (or “glioma”) – these are malignant brain tumors that originate from glial cells, which help support and protect the brain and spinal cord
b) Ependymoma – these are malignant tumors that originate from ependymocytes, immature cells found in the ventricles (the fluid-filled spaces within the brain)
c) Meningioma – these are benign tumors that originate from meninges, membranes that surround and protect neurons
What are the risk factors of a brain tumor?
Several factors come into play in the development of brain cancer and they include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene, excessive drinking of alcohol, family history of the disease, etcetera. While one cannot do anything about one’s family medical history, it is clear that lifestyle choices one makes go a long way to help avoid health problems like brain tumors… and that is something one can control.
Most types of brain tumors grow slowly over time and cause only relatively minor symptoms such as headaches or seizures, however, some types can invade nearby organs and tissues.
Brain tumors can be found in adults, children and teens, and even infants, and while this may be so, risk factors include,
- Age: Brain tumors are more common in children and older people though they can occur in people of any age.
- Gender: Although meningioma is more common in women, men are more likely to develop brain tumors than women.
- Genetics: Some hereditary genetic factors or conditions, such as tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis, may be linked to the occurrence of brain tumors.
- Factors such as radiation exposure or head trauma: This can be from exposure to ionizing radiation treatments like x-rays; and,
- Previous brain surgery or radiation treatments on the same side of the body where a tumor is located. For instance, radiation to the head given to treat other cancer like leukemia can be a risk factor for a person developing a tumor on that same side of the head.
See related article Neuroscience: caring for your brain
What can I do about them?
You should see your doctor right away if you notice any symptoms related to a brain tumor. They may include headache, dizziness, loss of vision or hearing, memory loss, and personality changes (including aggression).
If it’s found active, then you should be treated as soon as possible with surgery and chemotherapy or radiation therapy; a form of cancer treatment where beams of intense energy are used to shrink cancer cells, so as to reduce the spread to your vital organs or worse.
See related article about brain tumors Here
Worried you or a loved one might have a brain tumor?
Schedule a consultation with one of our neurologists for proper evaluation, management, and treatment options by sending an email to email@example.com or call 08139850710.